Ah, summer. You are here and I am so ready. Now if only the weather knew it! This time last year I was harvesting cherries; this morning I was dodging raindrops while searching for good spots to photograph Greg running his latest half marathon. I'm ready, though, because yesterday we did a massive reorg of 'our' studio space. It's pathetic (and awfully small) when you compare it to a real artist's loft in SoHo, or even a Paris garret of a century or so ago. I mean, suburban basements are made for large-screen TVs and wet bars, right? Maybe once I start some of the back-burner projects I want to do it will look more like this and less like this.
Last week I finally finished framing the eight drawings of various sizes I completed for Effusion Art Gallery, boxed them up like Fort Knox and sent them on. Just getting them ready for shipping and making sure the glasswouldn't break took as long as completing and framing one of the little ones, but I was pretty proud of the results. The images have been added to the gallery's website but are not yet on the page for the August show.
And last week I went to Opus' big annual sale with Ellen and stocked up on many essentials, plus a serious non-essential (a tube of Gamblin Series 4 silver oil paint). The guy behind the counter recommended I try priming my panels with Gamblin oil painting ground as apparently the paint sits on top without the oil sinking in like with gesso. So I went back and got a can of that, too. So much to learn! I'm watching closely as Tracey experiments with oil paint, too. She's way ahead of me, though, as she does actual searching and learning online, not indulging in distracting self-entertainment like I do with Facebook and Neatorama.
On that note, I have panels to prime. PS I know, I know! What kind of loser posts about shipping boxes on their blog? Sadly this is not the first time. Or even the second, ha!
I realized that I had one unsold drawing left from the Oceans Ten series at about the same time I discovered this Etsy shop, set up to "help the gulf coast recover from the massive BP oil spill." So far $2500 has been raised for Oxfam America and $2000 has gone to the National Wildlife Federation ... and there are still over 400 items in the shop and more being added daily. It's almost like this piece, one of my favourites from the series, was deliberately left behind just for this purpose. If you're interested, it is available on this page, or check out the main site and all the other listings.
It's almost Friday again and I haven't participated in Illustration Friday for many months, but was totally inspired by last Friday's theme/project. It only took me until Thursday to actually do it! :)
I was at a friend's birthday party in a restaurant on Saturday night when an acquaintance sat beside me. After a little inconsequential chitty chat, the topic of Facebook somehow came up and she said something along the lines of, "I don't understand how people can waste their time on that garbage. I think email and Facebook and so on is for lazy people who have no lives and nothing better to do." I was gobsmacked. Fortunately I had only had one beer and had actually been enjoying myself so rather than give in to my (sometimes uncontrollable) desire to elucidate and right a few wrongs via the well-timed application of my acid tongue I just shut my mouth and turned away. The truth is I would have absolutely no idea where to begin. Some battles are not worth fighting.
Sure, I understand and regularly live all the negative aspects of online communication. Yin/yang and all that. And as for Facebook, some use it as a PR platform, others use it for socializing and others use it to play games, which are all fine with me. OK, I'm not exactly a fan of FarmVille and its siblings, and 'hide' its evil tentacles every time it tries to grab me, but I see the value of the other two uses. Those aren't the reasons I keep going back, though. It's the sharing of awesomeness that I love. The day after Kate the dinosaur crammed her opinion down my throat a Facebook friend posted this wonderful speech about the value of understanding the stories of other cultures:
And then today a couple of friends posted this simplified but very compelling look at the fossil fuel issue:
Multiculturalism and the environment are pet topics of mine so naturally I'd respond to these video clips more strongly than those on other issues, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Rather than moaning on about the injustices of the world and watching the evening news spoonfeed us yet another story that generates fear and anxiety, both these 'thinkers' offer positive solutions. And this one even talks about how people are motivated to accomplish the kinds of change needed as described in the above videos:
Videos do not equal action, but it's a start. So if you're out there saving the world in your busy, important life then you're a goddess, Kate, and I worship you. Are you?
Adam has never really taken any art, though he draws some pretty imaginative stuff on a regular basis, so I'm tickled that he's decided to take an art class in school (grade 11) next year. Here's one of his pencil drawings, scanned and digitally coloured by his old mother.
And here's Adam, performing his other art in Footloose.
It's the last week of classes before exams and summer holidays so when I saw this I knew I had to surprise the boys with KISS sushi for lunch. When Adam texted me to say he didn't want to eat it I threatened him with grounding if he didn't finish his Gene Simmons. He made sure to take a photo of it first and post it as his Facebook profile picture.
I'm excited that I have almost finished this series of landscape drawings. By this time next week I hope to have packed up and shipped two finished commissions and at least started packing eight pieces for Effusion Gallery. Their busy summer season is fast approaching and since opening two years ago have sold something like thirty pieces of my work, so I don't want to miss out on this year's rich vacationers from Calgary! :) Completing an oeuvre is good but the truth is, I'm long overdue for a change and a challenge. Doing these drawings is kind of zen-like. I know my materials pretty well now, so there are no surprises, and the subject matter, though endless in variation, also has few surprises. I have abandoned pretty much all other drawing media except coloured pencil for these. The upside is the subtle layering of colour I can achieve; the downside is that, being on black paper, these drawings require really good lighting to show at their best.
The other medium I have spent a lot of time with over the past few years is acrylic paint. My favourite way to use it is without any kind of medium (except a touch of water), applied in flat, opaque layers. No glazing or paint texture. I have climbed a lot of hills but also had a lot of fun developing a style not dissimilar to my coloured-pencil drawing style, though the imagery is usually different.
Enter my recent experiences with oil paint. I don't know the medium, it presents me with a ton of both technical and stylistic problems, and that's what excites me. At the same time I'm tackling new imagery. I really need the challenge. I need to get to that obsessive place again where my mind won't leave a problem alone, because that's when I make progress. Failure is a large part of it.